Surprise #5: Taking Care of Business!

P1120253 P1120254 P1120255 P1120256 P1120257 P1120258 P1120259 Randy Bachman really shook up the crowd.  One awesome act after another, but this one seemed to inspire YouTube video and got the most people up off their seats.  I was surprised that his set resonated with me so deeply.  I had no idea that of all the music to be heard the evening of the Alberta Flood Relief Concert, Bachman’s tunes would so reach into my heart and memory.  He was not only entertaining, he was genuinely musical.  There was so much energy in the band that the crowd could not help but get pumped.  Nice going, Randy!  And, thank you!

This would be the YouTube video that really put a smile on my face.  I was too busy dancing to create one of my own!  This one’s titled, “Guy givin’ er at Alberta flood relief concert”

Surprise #4: Corb Lund’s Beard

I guess most folks were surprised by Corb Lund‘s beard.  This makes me smile.  There were a lot of fans in the stands for this guy!  He’s got a big heart for Alberta and wrote this tune for the sake of those struggling with the floods.

His website was a great promotion of the event and also captures the culture of our province, along with great music.

@abfloodaid August 15 at McMahon Stadium. All funds raised will benefit all Alberta flood victims. To make a donation:

Alberta Flood Aid will take place on Thursday, August 15 at 6:00 p.m. at McMahon Stadium.

The concert will feature the following artists: Jann Arden, Randy Bachman, Tom Cochrane, Matthew Good, Nickelback, Colin James, Loverboy, Corb Lund, Johnny Reid, The Sadies, The Sheepdogs, and Ian Tyson. Hosted by comedian Brent Butt.

The performance order is not released yet and more artists may be added. Artist line-up is subject to change, please check back at for updates.

Approximately 30,000 tickets will be sold for this star-studded event and revenue will be donated and Ticketmaster is waiving all service charges normally associated with ticket sales.

Corb Lund spares us any pretentiousness through his genuine nature.  This is easily evidenced by his ‘B[road]casts’ video diary.

A great Albertan, it was wonderful to have Corb Lund offer up his time in support of the folk who will be rebuilding for a very long time.  Charley Engel writes a nice little biography here.  Photo credit: Alexandra Valenti.

Alexandra Valenti: Photo Credit

Alexandra Valenti: Photo Credit

Surprise #3: Ian Tyson

I saw this Legend perform ‘back in the day’, when I was a bit of an activist as a member of the Friends to the Oldman River Society.  A beautiful artist and friend, Joane Cardinal Schubert, created the image used on the poster advertising a great musical and political event at the edge of Maycroft Crossing back in 1989.  Ian Tyson, along with people like Andy Russell and the Chiefs of the surrounding Nations, gathered along with thousands of Albertans to persuade the Government of Canada that construction of a dam would be of great environmental impact on this river. From The Art Gallery of Calgary’s catalogue for the Calgary Collects Exhibit in the Fall of 2011, this…

Joane Cardinal Schubert and the River

From Wikipedia…

“Russell also sometimes confronted environmental issues in the field, directly on the front lines. In 1977, for example, he was successful in persuading officials in British Columbia to reconsider plans to grant timber harvesting licences in the Akamina-Kishenina region, an area with which Russell was intimately familiar as a result of the decades he spent guiding and outfitting in the area.[23] While wilderness landscapes like the Akamina-Kishenina region were central to Russell’s writing and film making endeavours, he also directed some of his environmental advocacy to the rural working landscape he shared with his neighbours. For example, when Shell Canada in 1970 put forward an application to divert additional water from Drywood Creek, Russell monitored the proceedings to ensure than no more water was taken than necessary, and that the resulting effluent was properly treated.[24] In another instance, to draw attention to problems with the Government of Alberta’s use of sodium fluoroacetate as a predator control compound, he joined two of his ranching colleagues and assisted to gather ten poisoned and rotting coyote carcasses; these were then left on the grounds of the municipal office in Pincher Creek, Alberta, as part of a plan that drew public attention to the issue through prearranged media involvement.[25] Russell also involved himself in larger projects, including in the politically charged opposition to the construction of the Oldman River Dam in southwestern Alberta. He was a founding member of the Friends of the Oldman River and he participated in actions to oppose the dam project, most prominently as a speaker at musician Ian Tyson’s benefit concert held at Maycroft Crossing on June 12, 1989.[26]”

Maycroft 3Further to this, on the University of Lethbridge site

“Active resistance on the Oldman River Dam came from a group of Peigan Natives, the Peigan Lonefighters Society, who in August 1990 began to divert the river using an excavator to render the multi-million dollar dam useless.  The claim was simple, the government of Canada was intruding on sacred Native land, land owned by the Blackfoot Nations. According to Milton Born with a Tooth, “the Oldman River is located in Blackfoot Nation’s territory, something we have always taken as being within our own domain. We all grew up by the river, and that’s how the river has a personal attachment to myself and the people. So that’s what drove us to do what we did on August 3, to let the people know we still had this connection to the river.” Though resistance to the Oldman River Dam has been pacified in the past few years, Peigans still claim that reservior land is their own.

Another part of the controversy has to due with the environmentalists. The environmentalists call themselves, “Friends of the Oldman River Society.”  They formed in the early 1990’s, over the environmental concerns in the construction of the large scale Oldman River Dam. They note that the construction of the Oldman River Dam required an environmental assessment impact, and this was not conducted at all, by Ralph Klein’s government. An environmental assessment impact is a neccessity according to the “Navigable Waters Protection Act”, where it would be determined if its construction would have any notable environmental impacts on this region. The Friends of the Oldman River strongly felt that the construction of the Oldman River Dam, would severely alter and damage local riparian biomes, wildlife habitat, and aquatic life in down stream from the dam. A environmental impact assessment was later conducted by the government, and found the dam to have no significant environmental impact; but the Friends of the Oldman River Society amongst others regard it with much suspect.”

I had studied at the University of Lethbridge, perched on the edge of the Oldman River, and lived in residence there, so for four years, I had a huge relationship with the river.  Everything that Ian Tyson and Andy Russell stand/stood for, I felt deeply about.  And I guess that’s just never changed.  While I am faulted often for being a bit of a ‘bleeding heart’ in my family, I care very much for our environment and see, this many years later, what impact our choices as consumers have upon this wealth of land, water and air that we, as Canadians, often take for granted.

I’ve danced to this song many times over the years and to hear it on the night of the Flood Relief was a surprise.  Thank you, Ian, for your work on behalf of Albertans over all of these years.

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Surprise #2: How We Get There

Another revelation validated…something I knew, but experienced again.  I was heading for the Alberta Flood Relief Concert on the C-train with my cousin, when I looked over and saw Jackie.  Often sitting a few pews in front of me, with her family in church, I’ve shared a faith life with Jackie for a few years.  What I haven’t shared with her, is a train ride or two.  Last night I did.  Was this serendipity?

CT-Line-Map_Aug_2012Heading toward the concert, Jackie’s husband, Rick, joined us at the city core and honestly, the conversation that we shared was so much fun, that it felt like the destination didn’t really matter any more.  As circumstances had it, in the crush of thousands of people, we also ended the evening sitting across from one another on the return train.  How was this even possible? We spoke about music, neighbours, folk festivals and artists.  We spoke about the rituals of our lives and about song lyrics.  It was just such a great time.  I am grateful for time spent with friends…laughter and stories and good times.  The journey to and from the McMahon Stadium was  a surprise!

My cousin, Margy, is just about the greatest person in the world…I treasure every single moment that we share.  Last night was no exception!


Writing My Life Out of Order: Surprise #1 In No Particular Order

P1120244I’m trying to regroup in all aspects of life right now (and my regrouping is coming along just fine), but somehow my blog is becoming a mish-mash of the past two months and the present.  I just finished writing a ‘brief’ about my times in Hamilton…still not finished that one, but close.  Once completed, I have so much more to explore around times in Belleville, Powassan, Lindsay and tripping the Trans-Canada highway single-handedly.  I suppose my readers will just have to take it as it comes and I appreciate your patience with that.

At the moment, I need to review last night’s event, even briefly.  The Alberta Flood Relief Concert ticket was a gift from my daughter and her husband.  With gratitude, I made my way, along with 31,000 other attendees, to McMahon Stadium in Calgary.  I’m going to review the concert as a series of surprises in no particular order.

Surprise #1:  Jann Arden was set to play her last tune in her short set.  Now, I’ve attended no fewer than five of Jann’s concerts and loved every one of them.  When the introduction to Good Mother came up, I made some comment, “Oh…I knew she would do this one.”  I was happy.  I’ve always looked forward to this tune.

However, what happened next was surprising.  I anticipated the song in the same way I’ve always anticipated it, with images of my own mother. Through the introductory notes, I forgot that my mother was gone and when the tune moved slightly beyond and into the lyric, that reality of life without my mother, was like a punch in the gut.

My mother…the forever-reference point.  This experience…sort of like the difference between reading ‘the book’ and then watching ‘the movie’.  While I read ‘the book’, I create images in my head for characters and for settings.  At the first viewing of ‘the movie’, I’m always disappointed.  The physical choices for the actors and actresses rarely match the characters that have developed in my imagination.  The places never look quite the same.  It was a similar experience, listening to this song, the first time since my mother’s passing.

I surprised myself crying, all the while, surrounded by thousands of people in the stands.  The song, like everything else in my world, has changed.

Good Mother by Jann Arden

I’ve got money in my pocket,
I like the color of my hair.
I’ve got a friend who loves me,
Got a house, I’ve got a car.
I’ve got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
I’ve never wanted anything.
No I’ve, no I’ve, I’ve never wanted anything,
so bad..(so bad).

Cardboard masks of all the people I’ve been
Thrown out, with all the rusted, tangled
dented God Damned miseries!!
You could say I’m hard to hold,
But if you knew me you’d know,
I’ve got a good father,
And his strength is what makes me cry.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
I’ve never wanted anything,
No I’ve, no I’ve, I’ve never
wanted anything so bad..(so bad).

I’ve got money in my pockets,
I like the color of my hair.
I’ve got a friend who loves me,
Got a house, I’ve got a car.
I’ve got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.

Heart in hand,
Feet on ground,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
just be yourself.
just be yourself.


Who is Weyman Chan?

Shannon McClennan invited me to put together a painting around the words to a Weyman Chan poem.  I felt I had no option but to begin with layers…and in the end, create a pseudo-portrait on the surface.  I think that as artists, we all inject ourselves into our art.  The process is very personal and I think the product becomes that. The painting was started at the Gorilla House this past Wednesday and finished over morning coffee this morning…a challenge after a night at the Alberta Flood Relief Concert.  A wonderful part of this particular event was sharing time with Margy and meeting up with Jackie and Rick on the train.  We visited about music and just how artists are called to create from an innate place in their spirits.  We are a blessed people.  While the journey of the artist is sometimes a tricky one, it is so essential and at such a deep level, rewarding.

Weyman Chan writes About Chinese Blue

Drawing on more than two thousand years of ancient Chinese tradition that present diverse philosophical modes of being, whether it be the spiritual teachings of Kong Zi or Lao Tzu, the military dicta of Sun Tzu or the complex sensibilities expressed by poets such as Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju, Li Bai, Du Fu and Wang Wei in the wake of a tumultuous imperial government, Weyman Chan restates these concerns of the past while addressing other “first world problems” in our own contemporary era.

In Chinese Blue, the poet “character” sifts through the earth’s long history of geological layering and forgetting, grappling with the perpetual fragmentation of identity. The poet struggles with the prospect of any inky blots that suggest the finished work of a creator, subject to expediencies—ambition, romance, betrayal—that leave us flawed and human, taking the reader on a spiritual quest burdened by an endless sea of flotsam.

In a stoic attempt to reconcile biological drives with a stance of non-presence and to find a place beyond “perpetual worry” where he can accept ancestral mistakes while tentatively channelling the voices of advertising that condition our vernacular and massage our minds—offering a cliché happy ending to what remains of our physical existence—the poet finds himself wading through jazzily visionary delineations of the modern city, numbed and soundly crushed between “the word and the thing.”

Here is Weyman Chan at his most fiercely ironic, tracing a lineage he interprets subconsciously and through the intricacies of its raw genetic material, with keenly biting language that echoes the rhythms of Qu Yuan in contemplation of his own mortality beside the flowing waters of impermanence:

I would prefer to jump into the river and be entombed in the stomachs of fishes than to bow while purity is defiled by vulgar pestilence.

I hope that the People’s Poetry Festival is enjoyed by all and encourage anyone who has that artist within them, waiting to be expressed, to land yourself at the Art Party.  Create art around words!

Weyman Chan

The break up by Weyman Chan

Go on. Fight desire with clarity.

Why bother our muscle with
Your Dadaist halo? We
eat from the same neglect,
athletes run, they don’t argue about synaesthesia-isn’t
that the reason? The terms.
The terms.

There’s no saint of snow. Only fire.

If Roman baths were an escapement,
misery wouldn’t run on
second hand news.
Tonight, an ant speared
the moon with her salacious
purse. You, even pursier.